Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



good life by amy baird

Part of cultivating a good life is preserving the relationship with a difficult child.

As parents we have the responsibility to set guidelines, principles, and rules by which we expect our children to live. At a very young age, we need to let our children know what is expected from them while living in our homes. Typically, the rules created in each of our homes will be determined by how we were raised, our personal values, and our religious beliefs.  

Many of us might have children who disregard these rules at a very young age. Others may not experience a disobedient child until they reach their teenage years. Whereas, some will have children that abandon lifelong principles as adults. Several years ago my husband and I found ourselves struggling with a very difficult and disobedient teenager. I felt so much resentment, stress, and heartache. I often found myself being consumed and concerned by the opinions and judgments of others. I not only allowed the embarrassment, shame, and anger to negatively affect the relationship with my child, but I also allowed it to affect my personal happiness.

During this time I was so focused in on the disobedient actions of my child that I neglected to truly love my child. I invested too much time and energy with angry and contentious emotions. I was failing to recognize that the anger and contention was not only destroying the relationship with my child but also other relationships within my family.

A while later I came across two thoughts that provided me invaluable insight and softened my heart. In a talk entitled “Joy in the Journey” given by Thomas S. Monson, he stated, “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” I found such wisdom in this short, yet powerful phrase.

At this same time I was also reading a book written by Marjorie Hinckley entitled Glimpses. She shared an experience of giving advice to her granddaughter who was struggling with one of her children. Marjorie’s counsel to her was to “just save the relationship.” This additional understanding was life changing for me. It created within me a desire to preserve the relationship with my difficult child. It provided me with a deeper understanding that it is unconditional love that strengthens, motivates, and causes change in behavior.

For those of you who are currently struggling with a difficult child, my heart goes out to you. My advice to you would simply be to preserve the relationship no matter what! I am grateful to be a mother, and although there have been many days, months, and years where that responsibility has not been easy, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I sincerely love my children and I am thankful for the life lessons learned because of them, specifically because of my difficult child. Although my husband and I have not changed or compromised the rules within our home, I am so grateful for that pivotal moment when I realized that the love I have for my child is far more important than any guideline or rule. The necessary principles are unconditional love and preserving the relationship.

Note from Becky

I am grateful for my friendship with Amy and so thankful for many things I have learned from her. I witnessed just a sliver of her heartache while she was in the thick of it all. From an outside perspective, I always felt that she was going to learn valuable lessons from the trials she was facing. And when we learn things … especially “the hard way,” it is a gift to share that with others so they can benefit from greater understanding. So thank you Amy. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for choosing to share your experience and wisdom with others who have also experienced, or are currently experiencing, what has been a heavy trial for you. May we all feel more inspired to share in ways that will be helpful to others.


6 Responses

  1. CR says:

    We are dealing with a similar situation and have been praying about softening hearts to amend a broken relationship. This post has opened my eyes to see it from a different perspective. Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. Maria says:

    Thank you. I needed this. I also struggle with one of my children, she is only 9 years old. Sometimes I lose hope and fear for a poor relationship with her throughout her life, especially adolescence. These two quotes that Amy has shared are profound yet simple. Thank you so much for this perspective.

  3. Barbara Eads says:

    It’s been 20 years now since our “teen struggle.” What we learned from that was: We had to let go to know that we could survive it and still be happy. And you know what? She returned to us—much sooner than we expected!! 20 years later, we are all happier for it!!! At the time, it was humiliating—we questioned everything we stood for—and God for “letting this happen” to us. Later we realized that it was a humbling lesson that we needed to learn.

  4. LM says:

    I have an 18 yr old teenager wanting her independence so badly. She doesn’t want to tell us where she is going or what she is doing. We constantly argue. I finally figured it out this weekend, just let it go for my own sanity. I was focusing too much on her negativity and it was bringing out my negativity. So as the expression goes, “kill them with kindness”. And you know what, she was actually responding to me in more positive ways. I just hope I don’t forget and fall back to my old ways. I do believe she will come around when she figures things out.

    Just one baby step, I’ll be waiting for my reward down the road.

  5. Haven K says:

    I was the difficult child and while I did not always like my parents I did always love them, which was hard to express while I was so busy doing my own “thing.” I remember moments with my parents just quietly stating their expectations and being completely steadfast and unbending. I believe it was these moments that taught me the most about how to be true to myself and follow my parents example. I also remember them arguing and yelling but I learned very little in the heat of the moment. I am very thankful for my parents and their unconditional love and support. Thanks for sharing your story, I wanted to let you know that while your “difficult” child may not be receptive he/she is still learning from you, how to be a decent human being. Today my mom is my best friend and I love her dearly.

  6. Karla Endris says:

    I too have an 18 year old who thinks she can do whatever she wants whenever she wants and not have to answer to us. It is incredibly frustrating, but knowing that we aren’t the only ones dealing with it helps. I pray every day that she figures out sooner rather than later that we do the things we do only because we love her. She is a good kid most of the time but when she gets in the “I know more than you” mode I really don’t like her very much. I know this too shall pass as we’ve already gone through the terrible teens with our son, but I will confess… the teenage years are by far my least favorite in child rearing. Thanks for sharing your story, it’s very comforting.